March 2024

Fertility and Lifestyle: The Effects of Smoking, Alcohol, and Exercise

The Impact of Smoking on Fertility

Smoking is a habit that has far-reaching effects on our health, including fertility. In men, smoking can lead to a  decrease in sperm count and motility, and it can cause DNA damage in sperm. (Source: Fertility Centers of New  England) This means that the sperm’s ability to reach and fertilize an egg is compromised, reducing the chances  of conception. Furthermore, the harmful chemicals in cigarettes can cause changes in the shape and structure of  sperm, which can further decrease fertility. Quitting smoking can be challenging, but there are many resources  available, such as nicotine replacement therapy and support groups, that can help. 

In women, smoking can cause a variety of fertility problems. It can lead to hormonal imbalances, disrupting the  menstrual cycle and ovulation process. It can also damage the fallopian tubes, making it difficult for the egg to  travel to the uterus for implantation. Additionally, smoking increases the risk of miscarriage and ectopic  pregnancy. Women who quit smoking often see improvements in their fertility over time. 


Alcohol and Fertility

Alcohol consumption is another lifestyle factor that can impact fertility. In men, heavy drinking can lead to a  decrease in sperm count and poor sperm quality. It can also lead to impotence, reducing the chances of natural  conception. Reducing alcohol intake can improve these symptoms, and many men find that their fertility improves  after they stop drinking. 

In women, alcohol can disrupt the menstrual cycle, leading to irregular periods and ovulation disorders. (Source:  SOGC) This can make it difficult to conceive naturally. Furthermore, alcohol can affect the quality of a woman’s  eggs, reducing the chances of successful fertilization and implantation. It’s important to note that even moderate  drinking can affect fertility. Therefore, it’s recommended to limit alcohol intake when trying to conceive. Many  women find that tracking their menstrual cycle and avoiding alcohol around the time of ovulation can help  improve their chances of conceiving. 


The Effects of Smoking


Exercise and Fertility

Exercise is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle, but its relationship with fertility is complex. Regular, moderate  exercise can improve fertility by helping to maintain a healthy weight and promoting overall health. Being  overweight or underweight can lead to hormonal imbalances that disrupt the menstrual cycle in women and affect  sperm production in men. (Source: IVF Australia) Regular exercise, such as a daily walk or bike ride, can help  maintain a healthy weight and improve fertility. 

However, excessive exercise can have the opposite effect. In women, over-exercising can lead to irregular periods  or even stop menstruation altogether, making it difficult to conceive. In men, intense exercise can lead to  decreased sperm quality and quantity. Therefore, it’s important to find a balance. Regular, moderate exercise such  as brisk walking, gentle cycling, or swimming is beneficial for fertility, but high-intensity workouts should be done  in moderation. 


Making lifestyle changes can significantly improve fertility. Quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and  maintaining a balanced exercise routine are all steps that can enhance fertility. Maintaining a healthy diet,  managing stress, and getting enough sleep are also essential. 




Fertility Centers of New England - Does Smoking or Vaping Cause Infertility? (

SOGC - Substance use and fertility – Pregnancy Info

IVF Australia - How Can Weight Affect Fertility? - IVFAustralia